Secrets Of Why Direct Mail Works

Direct mail still works whether you want it to or not, which is why you’ll continue to get subscription requests, membership invitations, donation pleas, and coupons every day the mail runs. Here’s a list of tricks direct mail marketers use to increase the odds that their mailings will be opened. It’s written for marketers, but in the advertising arms race everything is fair game, so we felt it was worth showing Consumerist readers as well.

To begin with, direct mail marketers are urged to get personal: they should leverage every bit of data they have on you and incorporate it in a way that shows that they get you. “The closer you get to something that resembles a personal letter, the higher your response rate is going to be.” For some reason, signatures that are in blue ink work better than ones in black, we imagine because they subtly look more personalized and less machine-printed.

Marketers also put lots of work into an appealing teaser. Lists with numbers continue to be among the most successful for generating a response, which is why you also see them on news sites all across the web—including here, we’ll admit it. (There’s just something fundamentally appealing about a specific number of items on a list, apparently.)

Larger envelopes and card-shaped envelopes get opened more, as do envelopes with windows.

Among the sneakiest tricks are things like addressing the envelope by hand, using a real stamp over metered postage, and—worst of all—making it look, even if only subconsciously, like an invitation.

Everyone likes to be invited to a party or events, so take that into account when designing your direct mail envelope. “Envelopes that look like an invitation tend to work really well,” Willingham says. “Especially if you use a live stamp and no return address, because that gives the piece the look of personal correspondence.”

Of course, if you’re a marketer lurking on our site, you already know all of these things, so maybe you should instead read this list of ways to make your next direct mailing less damaging to the environment and less annoying to your prospects.

“9 1/2 Ways — To Get Customers to Open Your Direct Mail” [Kiplinger Business Resource Center]
“5 tips for better direct mail” [Trump University] (!)
(Photo: Getty)